The Bigger Picture: How the Global Alcohol Industry Is Responding to Covid-19
Over the past few weeks, as COVID-19 continues to spread and containment efforts reach new peaks, global sentiment has turned from shock to anxiety (and everything in between) quite quickly.
For many of us COVID-19 creates a very uncertain future. People are concerned about their own health, the health of their loved ones, school, employment, finances, hobbies, their ability to take part in important community and social events, and other important parts of their lives.
While just about every industry is feeling the economic impact of this pandemic, the bar and restaurant industry has been hit particularly hard.
Amid the crisis, several organizations and global beer, liquor and spirits brands in the alcohol beverage industry have stepped up to play a bigger role. If you think about it, today more than ever, the business sector has more resources to direct towards aid than governments – from broader production, logistics and distribution systems, to more agile and innovative technologies. Thankfully, we’re seeing these abilities bear fruit in the field. Here are a few very inspiring examples of true leadership in action.
Since the spread of COVID-19 means that people need to stay home as much as possible, for their own safety and above all for the safety of at-risk populations, the Maisons of the LVMH Group (which include Wine & Spirits, Perfume & Cosmetics, and of course fashion) are inviting their followers to escapades on various social networks, while staying at home with content inspired by nomadic thinking and memories.
LVMH has taken advantage of these slower times to browse through pages in its history and share them with its social network followers.
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An invitation to travel back in time: South of Hong Kong, 1986. A boy waits for nightfall to watch the passing of Halley’s Comet in a photograph from one of Jean Lariviere’s decade-spanning series for #LouisVuitton. Photograph “Little Boy and the Comet” from Jean Larivière’s “L’Oeuvre” Portfolio published in 2011. #SpiritofTravel
“We believe in the journey, even the ones that for now take flight in our dream” – The Louis Vuitton family
From perfume to gel production
Given the risk of a shortage in hydroalcoholic gel in France, Bernard Arnault instructed the LVMH Perfumes & Cosmetics business to manufacture within their production sites as much gel as needed to support the public authorities.
In the last two weeks, this gel has been delivered daily, free of charge, to France’s Ministry of Health and as a priority to the AP-HP, Assistance Publique – Hôpitaux de Paris.
In the United States, Pernod Ricard is also repurposing alcohol into hand sanitizers and joining the international effort.
On March 21, President Trump and the White House Coronavirus task force held a briefing and gave an update on securing more medical supplies for health care workers and working on a $2 trillion stimulus package with Congress. In his speech, president Trump gave the premium wine & spirits leader Pernod Ricard USA as an example for the big difference they make in producing and donating hand sanitizers across the United States.
The hand sanitizer will be produced at all of Pernod Ricard USA’s manufacturing sites, including their facility in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Smooth Ambler Spirits (Lewisburg, WV), Rabbit Hole Distillery (Louisville, KY) and TX Whiskey Distillery (Ft. Worth, TX). First shipment was delivered in New York last Thursday.
“In times like this it is important that everyone, especially companies with strong U.S. roots, like ours, prioritize good corporate citizenship and step up in the name of the greater good. I am glad that we were able to form this public/private partnership and repurpose our spirits production facilities to meet a pressing, national need.”
Ann Mukherjee, Chairman and CEO, Pernod Ricard North America
On March 23, multi-national alcoholic beverage manufacturer Diageo pledged more than eight million bottles of hand sanitizer, by donating up to two million liters of alcohol to manufacturing partners, aimed at overcoming shortages to protect frontline healthcare workers across the globe. The plan includes nearly two million liters of GNS (Grain Neutral Spirit) from Diageo’s manufacturing sites in the UK and Ireland, Italy, United States, Brazil, East Africa, India and Australia.
In addition, Diageo will continue to engage with national and local governments across the many countries where the company has major distilling operations.
“Bringing people together for a better world”
When AB InBev chose these words as their shared vision for the company, it was hard to imagine how meaningful they would be today. In response to the spread of COVID-19 , the company has launched a series of programs and initiatives to prompt financial support to local pubs and bars across the globe facing uncertainty during this time.
Beer Hawk, along with Master of Malt in the UK, have launched the Hospitality Support Alliance, supported by the Budweiser Brewing Group. Their “Save the Pubs” campaign will donate £1 for every order placed on any of their websites to a fund supporting hospitality workers who are struggling to make ends meet.
Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I, launched an amazing initiative last week under the hashtag #SavePubLife which lets customers buy a gift card for their favorite pub, while the company matches the donation amount now, when pubs need it most.
Another AB InBev brand, Camden Town Brewery, is trying to make social distancing a little more social to support Hospitality Action with the launch of their BRE.WWW.ERY online bar, which invites customers to join on Instagram Live for self-isolated live gigs, comedy shows, quiz nights and more. Through this brilliant initiative, supporters can place an order at the Camden website, adding a donation through their virtual tip jar, and the company will double those donations to Hospitality Action through their website.
Similarly, in South America, Stella Artois and its partners Chefs Club and Stone created the Apoie Um Restaurante movement to help struggling restaurants throughout Brazil. By purchasing a R$50 voucher, consumers have the opportunity to help their favorite local restaurants as all vouchers will be doubled to R$100 by Stella Artois and directly donated to the local businesses. Participating consumers are able to use the full credit at their restaurant of choice once re-opened.
Bacardi, a family-owned company, has launched a $3m fund to provide financial support, meals and other necessities for friends and partners during this unprecedented time.
“These may be the darkest of days for bars and restaurants, but I am certain that when we come out on the other side, people will emerge from isolation with a renewed zest to live life to the fullest and celebrate together with friends and family.” Mahesh Madhavan, CEO of Bacardi Ltd.
The initiative follows a $1 million pledge made by the Bacardi-owned Patron tequila brand last week to help industry partners that have lost their livelihoods.
Further to various press releases in recent weeks -Bacardi said that this pledge is just the start. Its teams are working hard to identify more ways they can assist the on-trade community across the globe. It said it expects more outreach and activations to come.
And these are just a few examples…
In these challenging times, when the world has had to reevaluate what it means to work cooperatively, it is truly inspiring to see leading global brands come together with a shared determination to prioritize collective health and safety and to build resiliency in their local communities. Committed to doing what they can to see our industry through this crisis, with great solidarity and in a spirit of collective effort for the common good, they have pledged to honor their various commitments for as long as necessary.
Written by Yifat Yudovsky, Head of Key Accounts at Ripples, the beverage-top media company that pioneered the original coffee printer and beer printer.
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